An American Express cardholder apparently trying to give new meaning to the slogan, “Membership has its privileges,” has refused to pay $6,700 in charges he claims he made for an illegal act--hiring prostitutes.
“It is axiomatic that a contract which has as its purpose an underlying illegality cannot be enforced by either of the parties,” said Thomas Waxter Jr., attorney for Michael Gianakos.
In an affidavit filed in Baltimore Circuit Court, Gianakos said he used his American Express card during July and August of 1987 to purchase the services of prostitutes at the Club Pussycat and the Jewel Box in downtown Baltimore.
The bills submitted to American Express showed that the charges were for champagne.
“If he’s right, everyone is going to be lined up on The Block (the city’s red-light district) with their charge cards in their hands,” said Sidney Friedman, a Baltimore attorney representing American Express.